Cooksbridge, Offham & Hamsey

CHURCH SERVICES: Sunday at St Peter’s Church, Offham. 10.15am Sunday School in the church hall, 10.30am Family Communion.

CAROLS: Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at St Peter’s Church, Offham, 6pm followed by mince pies and Christmas (liquid) cheer in the church hall.

REMINDER: Christmas Day at St Peter’s Church. Christmas Family Eucharist 9.45am. Please note change of time. The service will be celebrated by the Right Reverend Richard Jackson, Bishop of Lewes.

OART: The Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust. It is always nice to receive my copy from Oart and 2018 has been another very busy year for them. Over the past six years Oart’s volunteers have contributed to over 18km of river enhancements through installing 75 tonnes of gravel to provide spawning grounds for fish; building 10 in-channel berms to create sinuosity and diversity of flow; providing natural flood management solutions to Hassocks; planting 12,000 floodplain trees; undertaking 270 BMWP sampling activities; collecting and analysed 970 water samples; complexing six river clean ups; stabilizing 1km of bank to prevent erosion. The list that the volunteers undertake seems to be endless. Project Officer Peter King writes that at a recent social event for members of the Task Force he was asked a few times about what happens to the information which is collected by water quality teams and what difference the work of Task Force make to the river catchment. He says that the contribution of their volunteers is, in a word, invaluable, but it does not do justice to quite how important their help and support actually is in improving the river and informing of project development and funding applications. Oart can be supported in many ways and I have suggested to friends that they buy an Oart polo shirt to help raise their profile and much needed money for their river work. They are very good quality and come in deep navy with a very nice embroidered logo of a kingfisher. The price of £20 includes postage. More details from the membership secretary at membership@oart.org.uk

TALES OF THE RIVERBANK: As this will be the last column before Christmas I thought it would be fitting to include Jim’s diary where he walks along the Ouse and Uck keeping a close eye on what is going on in the rivers. Starting on August 11 which was the reopening of the sea trout season, but was closed due to the high temperatures and low flow conditions. At times there was no flow at all, putting the entire lower Ouse sea trout population and all forms of coarse fish at risk with no sign of rain to ease the problem. August 14, a clear-up around the village of litter thrown from cars and also to empty litter bins. The bus shelter had been used as a toilet yet again. All together he collected two black bags of rubbish. August 25, very low flows down the river and Jim was concerned for the fish and all other wildlife. August 26, the heavy rain arrived around lunchtime but it will take a lot more water to make the Ouse and Uck flow as the land is so dry. September 9, the water flowing over the weir and fish passing at Barcombe Mills had stopped yet again and he called in the Environment Agency. He walks around the Mills then on to a point towards Hamsey where mullet are seen swimming with larger carp in the weed beds. Overhead were a pair of red kites. September 27, a walk on the Ouse and he noticed a large number of berries on the hawthorn and holly trees by the river. Some shoals of small mixed fish and also a heron, which took flight with a loud squawk of protest. October 1, the leaves are turning colour early and Jim watched a jay and a squirrel getting together a winter stash of food. It’s the last month of a poor season for sea trout on the River Ouse with the lack of water playing a big part as the river is catch and release only. October 3, Jim visits Isfield Church to tidy up the graves of some very good friends and he watches a pair of buzzards calling and also notices how much redder the holly berries are. The area around the church is a good area for wildlife and he spots a barn owl and a deer which comes right into the graveyard to feed.

MORE LATER: As my electric is about to go off I shall have to finish Jim’s diary after Christmas and all that remains is for me to wish everyone a very happy and peaceful Christmas and healthy New year.